Jim Reed Frankfurt, Germany
Jim Reed (*1984) is from Nashville, TN where he studied photography at the Nashville State Technical Institute from 2002-2004. In 2012 he founded Easter Trouble Press, an independent art book publishing company.
Jim Reed was chosen by photographer Eric Ruby.
Laatikkomo’s interview with Jim Reed April 16th, 2015.
L: Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
JR: Originally I’m from the United States, but I’ve lived in Germany for the last three years, in Frankfurt. I’ve traveled through Central Europe and the United States, mostly in the south and mid-west of the US. I’m most influenced though by German/Austrian writers and artists, and by the pace of life where I live now, which in my experience tends to be a bit slower and more focused than in America.
L: What is your earliest memory of photography?
JR: It’s difficult to say. I can remember the first camera I had as a teenager, and walking at dusk trying to find the right exposure to reproduce the exact shade of fading blue in the sky. I can also remember hallucinating/seeing ghosts after spending too much time in my poorly ventilated self-made darkroom around the same time. When I was a child, just a baby, my father had a darkroom and a studio where he photographed couples dressed in costumes as if they were living during Confederate days (the period of the American Civil War). I must have smelled the chemicals and climbed on tripods and light stands then, but I can’t recall those memories now, and I only found out that my father did such work after I was an adult, after I was myself already working as a photographer.
L: The work shown in Laatikkomo, deals with time in a way that recalls film; showing a sequence of frames. Do you work exclusively with photography or do you also use other art forms in your creative expression?
JR: I’ve always loved Eadweard Muybridge. I also have a bipolar relationship with repetition; when it’s right I love it, or it annoys the crap out of me when it’s dull. I think a large part of being human revolves around how you deal with existing in time, what role you allow the past or your predictions of the future to play; how you juggle your memories or reframe them over time. For a while I’ve tried to find a way to show that in my work. I’m also very influenced by artists such as Paul Graham and Jeff Wall, specifically by something Wall experimented with in the 90s, which you could describe as ‘pictorial writing’. He tried to create a new form of communication specific to images, and the one criteria that stuck with me was to make image series or tableaus that can be read from left to right or in reverse, and either preserve the same ‘story’ or modify it somehow, depending on whether you ‘read’ from left to right or right to left. This is a form of storytelling I’m currently exploring. I’m also influenced by neuroscience and research into using images or image sequences to increase visual salience, or increase attention.
L: Although simplified, and repetitious, you manage to create strong narratives with this series of images. Do you seek inspiration from specific films or literature?
JR: I think, though there might be a cinematic feeling to the work, that I’m more influenced by literature. I’m more impressed with literature as a form of storytelling and I think films have different limitations. I’m just looking for a way of communicating that can only be done through photography, or maybe a pictorial equivalent to poetry or prose. Specifically I’m interested right now in novelists who use photographs alongside their writing, namely W. G. Sebald.
L: Photography often deals with the question of time, memory and preservation. The title of your work “Pretend that time is actually your friend” alludes to the more conceptual potential of photography: of telling more than what is visible in the image. What would you describe as the essence of photography?
JR: I think photography tries to make time friend instead of foe; it tries to chop entropy up into clean bits. I don’t think that is a potential of photography, I think it’s unavoidable. Alongside that, in these images is a young girl sitting next to an ageless symbol for entropy, the ocean, and her wave reminds me of the naiveté of all of us who are trying to make friends with something bigger than us, something that can and will someday kill us— time. That, to me, is the bravest thing a person can do.
L: What is one of the most important questions that you ask, or would like to inspire others to ask, through your photographs?
JR: I don’t ask myself anything when I work, I pay attention to what I’m looking at without thoughts distracting me, partially because I want the work to force, or encourage, viewers to do the same.
L: Could you list five or more words related to the work you are showing in Laatikkomo?
JR: No, not really. I’d prefer that people don’t have words in their head when they look at pictures.
Thank you so much Jim!!